Reactive or Proactive Services?
Add value for your infrastructure. Consideration factors for SMB decision-makers in choosing managed IT over break-fix.

Understanding Break-Fix vs. Managed Services

Support services in the IT industry are of two types—break-fix or managed services. With break-fix services, the provider only extends help when something is “broken.” Meanwhile, managed IT services is entrusting an entire business process to a third-party service provider.

Most companies will enlist both services over the years. However, understanding the difference between break-fix and managed services will save you time and money. You only get the services you need and avoid expenses that won’t ultimately add value to the company.

Before choosing your IT service provider, here’s everything you need to understand in the break-fix vs. managed services debate.

What Are Break-Fix Services?

As the name suggests, break-fix services are arrangements where the provider will only help you if something breaks or is not working as it should. Simply put, if something’s broken, they fix it.

Services under a break-fix model revolve around the concept of reactive support. Unless there’s an existing gap with your infrastructure, they won’t step in to help. They fix issues as they appear and help you minimize organizational downtime by lending their expertise for problem resolution.

Some examples of break-fix services are:

  • Virus removal: There are companies proficient in recovering files that have been infected by a virus or compromised by a cyberattack. They help you mitigate the spread of the malicious code or regain access after being blocked out, as is the case with ransomware.
  • Setting up a firewall: For new companies, or those recently targeted by a cyber attack, setting up your defenses can be a one-time project under a break-fix service model.
  • Software update or installation: This is common among legacy software since modern platforms can be installed or distributed via the cloud. Unless covered by warranty or another service agreement, having a technician over to your premises is a job order that is requested individually.
  • Installation of hardware, software, peripherals, or accessories: Most IT solution distributors include installation for free. However, updates and repairs are generally separate jobs.
  • Conducting training for your in-house teams: If there has been a gap in your IT operations and you need expert processes to align them, you can call an IT solutions company to provide training to realign your team members.

Since these services are as-needed, you usually pay per job through an hourly rate or a packaged rate for a specific task. You pay a fee for the service every time you need it and nothing more.

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What Are Managed Services?

On the other hand, the managed services model typically includes entrusting the entire process or aspect of your IT infrastructure to a managed services provider (MSP). Instead of only coming to resolve issues as they appear, they take over a process (such as your cybersecurity) and ensure that your infrastructure remains stable and secure.

Essentially, this arrangement lets you pay for proactive professional services that work with or without issues. Instead of repairing or restoring your IT functions, it becomes their responsibility to minimize risks that could lead to downtime and, subsequently, a loss of your productivity.

Managed IT service typically includes the following:

  • Network Management: One of the most common IT outsourcing opportunities where a team of third-party network support experts ensures your network remains reliable and efficient. Oftentimes, network management includes routine updating, patch management, network architecture, network cabling services, and more.
  • Cybersecurity: Usually entrusted to a managed security services provider (MSSP), cybersecurity is not limited to only setting up your defenses with firewalls and anti-malware solutions. Additionally, it usually includes proactive system monitoring, which includes real-time data and alerts for a potential threat.
  • Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): A 2020 study from IBM reveals that 95% of all cyber-attacks are due to human error, including logging into unsecured networks. With an EDR solution, every end-user device is monitored and immediately flagged for suspicious behavior.
  • Cloud Computing: Depending on your need, MSPs can provide you with a wide array of cloud-based services. From availing software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions to migrating entire business processes into the cloud, there are short- and long-term solutions to choose from.

Since these are ongoing services, the response time is fast. Plus, clients usually pay a monthly fee in exchange for them. The scope of services—including frequency, tools, and guarantees—is detailed in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to protect either party.

Break-Fix vs. Managed Services

Choosing Between Break-Fix vs. Managed Services

Choosing between break-fix vs. managed services is more than just deciding on your current needs; it is a long-term arrangement for your company. If you’re looking to find the best setup that fits your business, here are a few factors to consider:


Your financial capability remains the most crucial factor in deciding on the type of IT services you have. You only pay for break-fix services whenever providers work on something at your company. Meanwhile, managed services requires a recurring cost to protect your IT infrastructure proactively.

However, budget considerations do not end there. Break-fix may look especially cost-effective for small businesses. Still, you might want to check if you’re repeatedly paying for repairs and recovery over a recurring issue, requiring a full overhaul or monitoring by a dedicated team of experts.

Even for small and mid-sized businesses, managed IT services can be the most cost-effective solution, especially for those without the resources to retain in-house IT teams. This is especially true when lost productivity costs are calculated into the overall cost of break-fix vs. managed services.


Some companies have in-house IT teams keeping their infrastructure up and running. However, the growth of the company, or a realignment in response to the pandemic, could create new challenges for these teams that they are not ready for.

You can consider entrusting the upgrade and maintenance to a break-fix team that can work with your in-house staff. Conversely, you can entrust the new process to an MSP altogether. These two options are viable if you can’t support having additional talents on board, especially with the current shortage of human resources in the tech industry.


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Break-Fix vs. Managed Services – Find What’s Right For You

Every business is unique: with its own opportunities, challenges, strengths, and weaknesses.

Both break-fix and managed IT services can meet your company’s needs. However, it is important for business leaders and decision-makers to consider what will add value to the company in the long run.

To better help you decide, it’s important to find a reliable partner you can trust to keep your IT infrastructure running smoothly and efficiently. is an experienced industry leader with the latest solutions provided by a team of experts who understand your particular needs.

Reach out to us today for a consultation, and let’s find the right solution for your company.

How is your state of IT? Call Us: (855) 551-7760 with any questions.